In this issue, Lee et al. (2012) demonstrate that the degradation of RORα is regulated by the EZH2–DCAF1/DDB1/CUL4–proteasome axis, thus, identifying protein methylation as a post-translational modification that can orchestrate protein destruction through a motif termed the “methyl-degron.”
Arginine methylation is a common post-translational modification that is crucial in modulating gene expression at multiple critical levels. The arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs) are envisaged as promising druggable targets but their role in physiological and pathological pathways is far from being clear, due to the limited number of modulators reported to date. In this effort, enzyme activators can be invaluable tools useful as gain-of-function reagents to interrogate the biological roles in cells and in vivo of PRMTs. Yet the identification of such molecules is rarely pursued. Herein we describe a series of aryl ureido acetamido indole carboxylates (dubbed “uracandolates”), able to increase the methylation of histone- (H3) or non-histone (polyadenylate-binding protein 1, PABP1) substrates induced by coactivator-associated arginine methyltransferase 1 (CARM1), both in in vitro and cellular settings. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of compounds acting as CARM1 activators.
CARM1 activator; PRMT inhibitors; arginine methyltransferase; histone modifying enzyme; epigenetics
The Tuberous Sclerosis Complex 2 (TSC2) gene product, tuberin, acts as a negative regulator of mTOR signaling, and loss of tuberin function leads to tumors of the brain, skin, kidney, heart and lungs. Previous studies have shown that loss of tuberin function affects the stability and subcellular localization of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor (CKI) p27, although the mechanism(s) by which tuberin modulates p27 stability have not been elucidated. Previous studies have also shown that AMPK, which functions in an energy-sensing pathway in the cell, becomes activated in the absence of tuberin. Here we show that in Tsc2-null tumors and cell lines, AMPK activation correlates with an increase in p27 levels, and inhibition of AMPK signaling decreases p27 levels in these cells. In addition, activation of AMPK led to phosphorylation of p27 at the conserved terminal threonine residue of murine p27 (T197) in both in vitro kinase assays and in cells. Phosphorylation of p27 at T197 led to increased interaction between p27 and 14-3-3 proteins and increased the protein stability of p27. Furthermore, activation of AMPK signaling promoted the interaction between p27 and 14-3-3 proteins and increased the stability of the p27 protein in a manner that was dependent on T197. These data identify a conserved mechanism for regulation of p27 stability via phosphorylation at the terminal threonine (mT197/hT198), which when AMPK is activated, results in stabilization of the p27 protein.
Tuberous sclerosis complex; TSC2; energy sensing
In skeletal muscle, asymmetrically dividing satellite stem cells give rise to committed satellite cells that transcribe the myogenic determination factor Myf5, a Pax7-target gene. We identified the arginine methyltransferase Carm1 as a Pax7 interacting protein and found that Carm1 specifically methylates multiple arginines in the N-terminus of Pax7. Methylated Pax7 directly binds the C-terminal cleavage forms of the trithorax proteins MLL1/2 resulting in the recruitment of the ASH2L:MLL1/2:WDR5:RBBP5 histone H3K4 methyltransferase complex to regulatory enhancers and the proximal promoter of Myf5. Finally, Carm1 is required for the induction of de novo Myf5 transcription following asymmetric satellite stem cell divisions. We defined the C-terminal MLL region as a novel reader domain for the recognition of arginine methylated proteins such as Pax7. Thus, arginine methylation of Pax7 by Carm1 functions as a molecular switch controlling the epigenetic induction of Myf5 during satellite stem cell asymmetric division and entry into the myogenic program.
Satellite stem cells; Muscle regeneration; Pax7; Myf5; Carm1; Histone arginine methyltransferase; MLL; Histone H3K4 methyltransferase
We describe the discovery of UNC1215, a potent and selective chemical probe for the methyl-lysine (Kme) reading function of L3MBTL3, a member of the malignant brain tumor (MBT) family of chromatin interacting transcriptional repressors. UNC1215 binds L3MBTL3 with a Kd of 120 nM, competitively displacing mono- or dimethyl-lysine containing peptides, and is greater than 50-fold selective versus other members of the MBT family while also demonstrating selectivity against more than 200 other reader domains examined. X-ray crystallography identified a novel 2:2 polyvalent mode of interaction. In cells, UNC1215 is non-toxic and binds directly to L3MBTL3 via the Kme-binding pocket of the MBT domains. UNC1215 increases the cellular mobility of GFP-L3MBTL3 fusion proteins and point mutants that disrupt the Kme binding function of GFP-L3MBTL3 phenocopy the effects of UNC1215. Finally, UNC1215 demonstrates a novel Kme-dependent interaction of L3MBTL3 with BCLAF1, a protein implicated in DNA damage repair and apoptosis.
A fundamental challenge in mammalian biology has been elucidating mechanisms linking DNA methylation and histone post-translational modifications. Human UHRF1 (ubiquitin-like, PHD and RING finger containing 1) has multiple domains that bind chromatin and is implicated genetically in DNA methylation maintenance. However, molecular mechanisms underlying DNA methylation regulation by UHRF1 are poorly defined. Here we show that UHRF1 association with methylated histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) is required for DNA methylation maintenance. We further show that UHRF1 association with H3K9 methylation is insensitive to adjacent H3 serine 10 phosphorylation – a known mitotic ‘phospho/methyl switch.’ Importantly, we demonstrate that UHRF1 mitotic chromatin association is necessary for DNA methylation maintenance through regulation of DNMT1 stability. Collectively, our results define a novel link between H3K9 methylation and the faithful epigenetic inheritance of DNA methylation, establishing an unexpected mitotic role for UHRF1 in this process.
UHRF1; DNA methylation; histones; post-translational modifications; epigenetics
PHF20 is a multidomain protein and subunit of a lysine acetyltransferase complex that acetylates histone H4 and p53 but whose function is unclear. Using biochemical, biophysical and cellular approaches, we determined that PHF20 is a direct regulator of p53. A Tudor domain in PHF20 recognized p53 dimethylated at Lys370 or Lys382 and a homodimeric form of this Tudor domain could associate with the two dimethylated sites on p53 with enhanced affinity, indicating a multivalent interaction. Association with PHF20 promotes stabilization and activation of p53 by diminishing Mdm2-mediated p53 ubiquitylation and degradation. PHF20 contributes to upregulation of p53 in response to DNA damage, and ectopic expression of PHF20 in different cell lines leads to phenotypic changes that are hallmarks of p53 activation. Overall our work establishes that PHF20 functions as an effector of p53 methylation that stabilizes and activates p53.
Arginine methylation is a common posttranslational modification that is found on both histone and non-histone proteins. Three types of arginine methylation exist in mammalian cells: monomethylarginine (MMA), asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) and symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA). PRMT1 is the primary methyltransferase that deposits the ADMA mark, and it accounts for over 90% of this type of methylation. Here, we show that with the loss of PRMT1 activity, there are major increases in global MMA and SDMA levels, as detected by type-specific antibodies. Amino acid analysis confirms that MMA and SDMA levels accumulate when ADMA levels are reduced. These findings reveal the dynamic interplay between different arginine methylation types in the cells, and that the pre-existence of the dominant ADMA mark can block the occurrence of SDMA and MMA marks on the same substrate. This study provides clear evidence of competition for different arginine methylation types on the same substrates.
Coactivator-associated arginine methyltransferase 1 (CARM1) represents a valuable target for hormone-dependent tumors such as prostate and breast cancers. Here we report the enzyme and cellular characterization of the 1-benzyl-3,5-bis(3-bromo-4-hydroxybenzylidene) piperidin-4-one (7g) and its analogues 8a-l. Among them, 7g, 8e, and 8l displayed high and selective CARM1 inhibition, with lower or no activity against a panel of different PRMTs or HKMTs. In human LNCaP cells, 7g showed a significant dose-dependent reduction of the PSA promoter activity.
Arginine methylation is a common posttranslational modification (PTM). This type of PTM occurs on both nuclear and cytoplasmic proteins, and is particularly abundant on shuttling proteins. In this review, we will focus on one aspect of this PTM: the diverse roles that arginine methylation of the core histone tails play in regulating chromatin function. A family of nine protein arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs) catalyze methylation reactions, and a subset target histones. Importantly, arginine methylation of histone tails can promote or prevent the docking of key transcriptional effector molecules, thus playing a central role in the orchestration of the histone code.
arginine methylation; histone code; tudor domain; CARM1; ChIP-seq
The polyketide natural product borrelidin 1 is a potent inhibitor of angiogenesis and spontaneous metastasis. Affinity biopanning of a phage display library of colon tumor cell cDNAs identified the tandem WW domains of spliceosome-associated protein formin binding protein 21 (FBP21) as a novel molecular target of borrelidin, suggesting that borrelidin may act as a modulator of alternative splicing. In support of this idea, 1, and its more selective analog 2, bound to purified recombinant WW domains of FBP21. They also altered the ratio of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) isoforms in retinal pigmented endothelial (RPE) cells in favour of anti-angiogenic isoforms. Transfection of RPE cells with FBP21 altered the ratio in favour of pro-angiogenic VEGF isoforms, an effect inhibited by 2. These data implicate FBP21 in the regulation of alternative splicing and suggest the potential of borrelidin analogs as tools to deconvolute key steps of spliceosome function.
Peptidylarginine deiminase (PAD) catalyzes the posttranslational citrullination of selected proteins in a calcium dependent manner. The PAD4 isoform has been implicated in multiple sclerosis, Rheumatoid arthritis, some types of cancer, and plays a role in gene regulation. However, the substrate selectivity of PAD4 is not well defined, nor is the impact of citrullination on many other pathways. Here, a high-density protein array is used as a primary screen to identify 40 previously unreported PAD4 substrates, 10 of which are selected and verified in a cell lysate-based secondary assay. One of the most prominent hits, human 40S ribosomal protein S2 (RPS2), is characterized in detail. PAD4 citrullinates the Arg-Gly repeat region of RPS2, which is also an established site for Arg methylation by protein arginine methyltransferase 3 (PRMT3). As in other systems, crosstalk is observed; citrullination and methylation modifications are found to be antagonistic to each other, suggesting a conserved posttranslational regulatory strategy. Both PAD4 and PRMT3 are found to co-sediment with the free 40S ribosomal subunit fraction from cell extracts. These findings are consistent with participation of citrullination in the regulation of RPS2 and ribosome assembly. This application of protein arrays to reveal new PAD4 substrates suggests a role for citrullination in a number of different cellular pathways.
The FoxO family of transcription factors plays an important role in longevity and tumor suppression by regulating the expression of a wide range of target genes. FoxO3 has recently been found to be associated with extreme longevity in humans and to regulate the homeostasis of adult stem cell pools in mammals, which may contribute to longevity. The activity of FoxO3 is controlled by a variety of post-translational modifications that have been proposed to form a ‘code’ affecting FoxO3 subcellular localization, DNA binding ability, protein-protein interactions and protein stability. Lysine methylation is a crucial post-translational modification on histones that regulates chromatin accessibility and is a key part of the ‘histone code’. However, whether lysine methylation plays a role in modulating FoxO3 activity has never been examined. Here we show that the methyltransferase Set9 directly methylates FoxO3 in vitro and in cells. Using a combination of tandem mass spectrometry and methyl-specific antibodies, we find that Set9 methylates FoxO3 at a single residue, lysine 271, a site previously known to be deacetylated by Sirt1. Methylation of FoxO3 by Set9 decreases FoxO3 protein stability, while moderately increasing FoxO3 transcriptional activity. The modulation of FoxO3 stability and activity by methylation may be critical for fine-tuning cellular responses to stress stimuli, which may in turn affect FoxO3's ability to promote tumor suppression and longevity.
longevity; FOXO transcription factors; methyltransferase; Set9; aging
The covalent marking of proteins by methyl group addition to arginine residues can promote their recognition by binding partners or can modulate their biological activity. A small family of gene products that catalyze such methylation reactions in eukaryotes (PRMTs) work in conjunction with a changing cast of associated subunits to recognize distinct cellular substrates. These reactions display many of the attributes of reversible covalent modifications such as protein phosphorylation or protein lysine methylation; however, it is unclear to what extent protein arginine demethylation occurs. Physiological roles for protein arginine methylation have been established in signal transduction, mRNA splicing, transcriptional control, DNA repair, and protein translocation.
M phase phosphoprotein 8 (MPP8) harbors a N-terminal chromodomain and a C-terminal ankyrin repeat domain. MPP8, via its chromodomain, binds histone H3 peptide tri- or di-methylated at lysine 9 (H3K9me3/2) in submicromolar affinity. We determined the crystal structure of MPP8 chromodomain in complex with H3K9me3 peptide. MPP8 interacts with at least six histone H3 residues from glutamine 5 to serine 10, enabling its ability to distinguish lysine 9 containing peptide (QTARKS) from that of lysine 27 (KAARKS), both sharing the ARKS sequence. A partial hydrophobic cage with three aromatic residues (Phe59, Trp80, Tyr83) and one aspartate (Asp87) encloses the methylated lysine 9. MPP8 has been reported to be phosphorylated in vivo, including the cage residue Tyr83 and the succeeding Thr84 and Ser85. Modeling a phosphate group onto the side chain hydroxyl oxygen of Tyr83 suggests the negatively charged phosphate group could enhance the binding of positively charged methyl-lysine or create a regulatory signal by allowing or inhibiting binding of other protein(s).
X-ray crystallography; epigenetics; MPP8 phosphorylation; methyl-lysine binding
FF domains are small protein-protein interaction modules that have two flanking conserved phenylalanine residues. They are present in proteins involved in transcription, RNA splicing, and signal transduction, and often exist in tandem arrays. Although several individual FF domain structures have been determined by NMR, the tandem nature of most FF domains has not been revealed. Here we report the 2.7 Å resolution crystal structure of the first three FF domains of human transcription elongation factor CA150. Each FF domain is composed of three a-helices and a 310 helix between α-helices 2 and 3. The most striking feature of the structure is that an FF domain is connected to the next by an α-helix that continues from helix 3 to helix 1 of the next. The consequent elongated arrangement allows exposure of many charged residues within the region that can be engaged in interaction with other molecules. Binding studies using a peptide ligand suggests that a specific conformation of the FF domains might be required to achieve higher affinity binding. Additionally, we explore potential DNA binding of the FF construct used in this study. Overall we provide the first crystal structure of a FF domain and insights into the tandem nature of the FF domains and suggest that in addition to protein binding, FF domains might be involved in DNA binding.
FF domain; CA150; X-ray crystallography; protein-ligand interaction; transcription
Arginine methylation is a common posttranslational modification that has been strongly implicated in transcriptional regulation. The arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs) were first reported as transcriptional coactivators for the estrogen and androgen receptors. Compounds that inhibit these enzymes will provide us with valuable tools for dissecting the roles of these enzymes in cells, and will possibly also have therapeutic applications. In order to identify such inhibitors of the PRMTs, we performed a high throughput screen using a small molecule library a number of years ago. We termed these compounds AMIs (arginine methyltransferase inhibitors). The majority of these inhibitors were polyphenols, and one in particular (AMI-18) shared additional features with a group of known xenoestrogens. We thus tested a panel of xenoestrogens and found that a number of them possess the ability to inhibit PRMT activity in vitro. These inhibitors primarily target CARM1, and include licochalcone A, kepone, benzyl 4-hydroxybenzoate, and tamoxifen. We developed a cell-based reporter system for CARM1 activity, and showed that tamoxifen (IC50=30 µM) inhibits this PRMT. The ability of these compounds to regulate the activity of transcriptional coactivators may be an unappreciated mechanism of action for xenoestrogens and may also explain the efficacy of high-dose tamoxifen treatment on estrogen receptor negative cancers.
PRMT1; CARM1; Arginine methylation; Xenoestrogens
DNA CpG methylation and histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) methylation are two major repressive epigenetic modifications, and these methylations are positively correlated with one another in chromatin. Here we show that G9a or G9a-like protein (GLP) dimethylate the amino-terminal lysine 44 (K44) of mouse Dnmt3a (equivalent to K47 of human DNMT3A) in vitro and in cells overexpressing G9a or GLP. The chromodomain of MPP8 recognizes the dimethylated Dnmt3aK44me2. MPP8 also interacts with self-methylated GLP in a methylation-dependent manner. The MPP8 chromodomain forms a dimer in solution and in crystals, suggesting that a dimeric MPP8 molecule could bridge the methylated Dnmt3a and GLP, resulting in a silencing complex of Dnmt3a–MPP8–GLP/G9a on chromatin templates. Together, these findings provide a molecular explanation, at least in part, for the co-occurrence of DNA methylation and H3K9 methylation in chromatin.
SMN (Survival motor neuron protein) was characterized as a dimethyl-arginine binding protein over ten years ago. TDRD3 (Tudor domain-containing protein 3) and SPF30 (Splicing factor 30 kDa) were found to bind to various methyl-arginine proteins including Sm proteins as well later on. Recently, TDRD3 was shown to be a transcriptional coactivator, and its transcriptional activity is dependent on its ability to bind arginine-methylated histone marks. In this study, we systematically characterized the binding specificity and affinity of the Tudor domains of these three proteins quantitatively. Our results show that TDRD3 preferentially recognizes asymmetrical dimethylated arginine mark, and SMN is a very promiscuous effector molecule, which recognizes different arginine containing sequence motifs and preferentially binds symmetrical dimethylated arginine. SPF30 is the weakest methyl-arginine binder, which only binds the GAR motif sequences in our library. In addition, we also reported high-resolution crystal structures of the Tudor domain of TDRD3 in complex with two small molecules, which occupy the aromatic cage of TDRD3.
Cell proliferation in primary and metastatic tumors is a fundamental characteristic of advanced breast cancer. Further understanding of the mechanism underlying enhanced cell growth will be important in identifying novel prognostic markers and therapeutic targets. Here we demonstrated that tyrosine phosphorylation of the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) is a critical event in growth regulation of breast cancer cells. We found that phosphorylation of PCNA at tyrosine 211 (Y211) enhanced its association with the non-receptor tyrosine kinase c-Abl. We further demonstrated that c-Abl facilitates chromatin association of PCNA and is required for nuclear foci formation of PCNA in cells stressed by DNA damage as well as in unperturbed cells. Targeting Y211 phosphorylation of PCNA with a cell-permeable peptide inhibited the phosphorylation and reduced the PCNA-Abl interaction. These results show that PCNA signal transduction has an important impact on the growth regulation of breast cancer cells.
Specific sites of histone tail methylation are associated with transcriptional activity at gene loci. These methyl-marks are interpreted by effector molecules, which harbor protein domains that bind the methylated motifs and facilitate either active or inactive states of transcription. CARM1 and PRMT1 are transcriptional coactivators that deposit H3R17me2a and H4R3me2a marks, respectively. We used a protein domain microarray approach to identify the tudor domain-containing protein TDRD3 as a “reader” of these marks. Importantly, TDRD3 itself is a transcriptional coactivator. This coactivator activity requires an intact tudor domain. TDRD3 is recruited to an estrogen responsive element in a CARM1-dependent manner. Furthermore, ChIP-seq analysis of TDRD3 reveals that it is predominantly localized to transcriptional start sites. Thus, TDRD3 is an effector molecule that promotes transcription by binding methylarginine marks on histone tails.
The p53 tumor suppressor gene contains a common single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) that results in either an arginine or proline at position 72 of the p53 protein. This polymorphism affects the apoptotic activity of p53 but the mechanistic basis and physiological relevance of this phenotypic difference remain unclear. Here we describe the development of mouse models for the p53 R72P SNP using two different approaches. In both sets of models the human or humanized p53 proteins are functional as evidenced by the transcriptional induction of p53 target genes in response to DNA damage and the suppression of early lymphomagenesis. Consistent with in vitro studies, mice expressing the 72R variant protein (p53R) have a greater apoptotic response to several stimuli compared to mice expressing the p53P variant. Molecular studies suggest that both transcriptional and non-transcriptional mechanisms may contribute to the differential abilities of the p53 variants to induce apoptosis. Despite a difference in the acute response to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, no difference in the tumorigenic response to chronic UV exposure was observed between the polymorphic mouse models. These findings suggest that under at least some conditions, the modulation of apoptosis by the R72P polymorphism does not impact the process of carcinogenesis.
p53; apoptosis; polymorphism
Dynamic histone lysine methylation involves the activities of modifying enzymes (writers), enzymes removing modifications (erasers) and readers of the histone code. One common feature of these activities is the recognition of lysines in methylated and unmethylated states, whether they are substrates, reaction products or binding partners. We applied the concept of adding a lysine mimic to an established inhibitor (BIX-01294) of histone H3 lysine 9 methyltransferases G9a and G9a-like protein (GLP) by including a 5-aminopentyloxy moiety, which is inserted into the target lysine-binding channel and becomes methylated by GLP, albeit slowly. The compound enhanced its potency in vitro and reduced cell toxicity in vivo. We suggest that adding a lysine or methyllysine mimic should be considered in the design of small molecule inhibitors for other methyl-lysine writers, erasers and readers.
Epigenetics; Histone lysine methylation; enzymatic inhibition; lysine mimics
Protein lysine methylation signaling is implicated in diverse biological and disease processes. Yet the catalytic activity and substrate specificity are unknown for many human protein lysine methyltransferases (PKMTs). We screened over forty candidate PKMTs and identified SETD6 as a methyltransferase that monomethylates chromatin-associated NF-κB RelA at lysine 310 (RelAK310me1). SETD6-mediated methylation rendered RelA inert and attenuated RelA-driven transcriptional programs, including inflammatory responses in primary immune cells. RelAK310me1 was recognized by the ankryin repeat of GLP, which under basal conditions, promoted a repressed chromatin state at RelA target genes through GLP-mediated H3K9 methylation. NF-κB activation-linked phosphorylation of RelA by PKCζ at serine 311 blocked GLP binding to RelAK310me1 and relieved target gene repression. Our findings establish a new mechanism by which chromatin signaling regulates inflammation programs.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) can undergo post-translational modifications, including phosphorylation, glycosylation and ubiquitylation, leading to diverse physiological consequences and modulation of its biological activity. There is increasing evidence that methylation may parallel other post-translational modifications in the regulation of various biological processes. It is still not known, however, whether EGFR is regulated by this post-translational event. Here, we show that EGFR Arg 1175 is methylated by an arginine methyltransferase, PRMT5. Arg 1175 methylation positively modulates EGF-induced EGFR trans-autophosphorylation at Tyr 1173, which governs ERK activation. Abolishment of Arg 1175 methylation enhances EGF-stimulated ERK activation by reducing SHP1 recruitment to EGFR, resulting in augmented cell proliferation, migration and invasion of EGFR-expressing cells. Therefore, we propose a model in which the regulatory crosstalk between PRMT5-mediated Arg 1175 methylation and EGF-induced Tyr 1173 phosphorylation attenuates EGFR-mediated ERK activation.